Cut The Cable Cord
Written by Pamm Clark
We decided it was time for a change after years of being addicted to cable and DVRs. We have had it with the hassle between our cable company and TiVo. It seemed we had to have a tech out to our home to fix yet another issue at least monthly. Not to mention the hours spent on the phone with a variety of customer service reps and technical support.
I don't blame TiVo or our cable company. I'm still a huge TiVo fan! They were doing the best they could. I blame me. I wanted cable and a TiVo DVR so badly that I was willing to put up with it all.
Looking at our alternatives, we refused to get into a contract with a satellite company and we were done with cable, so streaming seems to be the only alternative left. I'm sharing the steps we took to make the switch:
Pick a device to stream videos. You may already have a Smart TV, Home Theater System, game system or Blue Ray player that has apps like Netflix and YouTube built right in. Or you can use a set-top box. You can view a list of supported devices for Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu.
||We opted for Roku 3 from Walmart. It's important to get Roku 3 because the Roku 1 and Roku 2 are missing key features, most notably a YouTube app. We liked our Roku 3 so much, we got a second one for the bedroom using all the savings from not having a cable bill. A Roku 4 is now available and worth looking into. Chromecast is another option we looked at seriously.|
Sign up for Netflix Free 30-Day Trial, Amazon Prime Free 30-Day Trial, and Hulu Plus Free Week. Explore what is offered. They all offer movies and TV shows. It's not everything, but there's enough to keep us entertained for a very long time.
All of the above overlap on their offerings. You may not need all three services or you might like them all. The basic memberships cost $8-$10 per month (you have to pay for Amazon Prime all up front at $99/year).
Also, sign up for Sling TV's Free Week. It's streaming channels and video on demand of some popular cable channels. They have different package add ons such as sports, kids, lifestyle, HBO and more. The basic package starts at $20 per month and add-ons are $5-$15 per month. This might be a great cable alternative that is much less expensive.
For streaming, you need high-speed Internet. Netflix recommends at least 5.0 Megabits per second for HD quality. You can test your connection speed at speedtest.net. If you don't have at least 5.0 MBPS, you will need to call your internet service provider and ask for a plan with higher speeds.
Even though some devices are equipped with WiFi, you will get better quality streaming if you go with an Ethernet connection.
On the devise you choose for streaming, look at all the apps offered. On the Roku, there are 100s of "Channels". News, movies, free, paid, etc. There's so much to explore. A lot of the "Channels" we are not interested in, but we found some that we like, like Crackle and a new favorite show, Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee. There are even Private Channels for the Roku you can search for online. I found a bunch here.
|Another option is to use a old or unused computer or an inexpensive computer. According to reviews, Asus Chromebox makes a good streaming box. Adding a wireless keyboard and mouse could make this a great option for streaming and surfing the Internet. If you go with a computer or Chromebox, you could easily get by with the free option of Hulu, saving you more money in the long run.|
||You will need to realize that not everything you're used to watching when it's first on will be available right away. I find this true of a lot of cable series on History, TLC, Discovery, etc. shows. I have found most of them available in past seasons. I bet if I just wait a 6-12 months, it will be available later. Also, Amazon Instant Videos has "Season Passes" of first run shows for a price outside of Prime. We have bought season passes for a few of our favorite shows.|
Even though you will be letting go of shows you love, you will find new favorites and you will rediscover old favorites to watch again.
There are a few shows not available on the streaming services, but they are available at the network site or on the network app. Look for "Unlocked" shows.
Guess what? There are still commercials. Hulu Plus, network sites and apps, and some others have forced commercials. You cannot fast forward through them. It's usually 1, 2 or 3 commercials. Remember the old days? Just enough time to visit the bathroom or get a snack. It's not too bad.
It takes a little bit more work to find and watch TV shows at first, but you get the hang of it in no time. Something I like about watching TV now is that I can binge watch series, no more waiting until next week to see what happens.
Now you're ready. Call your cable company, return cable equipment, and cancel service!
Evaluate the free trials of Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu Plus, and decide which ones you want to keep, cancel the others before your trial period is over.
Add an antenna to your TV. Depending on your area, many free channels could be available. In our city, up to 20 channels are available. I moved the antenna around until I was able to get 10 channels. Zap2it.com has an awesome TV Guide.
I found this article very helpful. It has a lot of streaming services listed.
You did it! You are now cable free! Add up your new monthly costs and subtract your monthly cable bill. Enjoy your savings!
UPDATE AFTER 90 DAYS: I wasn't sure if I would be as thrilled cutting the cable a few months in as I was in the beginning. But guess what?! I love it more and more each day.
I am enjoying binge watching new-to-me shows, as well as revisiting my old favorite TV series from beginning to end.
I occasionally miss a few cable shows, but then look at what is available to me now and remember the high cable bills. Also, it's highly likely that the shows I'm missing will be available for free in the coming months or years, so I just have to be patient. There are a few shows I can watch through the cable network's website, but it not available through my Roku 3.
Overall, even with a little extra effort to find TV shows and missing a few shows, I'm still thrilled with not paying for cable. I can't say enough good about our Roku 3 players, Netflix, and Hulu Plus. We might even get an Amazon Prime membership soon, but we are still debating that.
Our old TiVo boxes work with an antenna, so we may consider using them in the future. It would record TV shows broadcast over the air. We could then watch the shows later, just like we used to with the cable DVR.
If you have been thinking about cutting your cable, now is a great time to do it. There is so much streaming TV available and so much great technology these days, it just makes sense.